The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mulayam turns back on Cong

New Delhi, Oct. 27: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has made it clear to the CPM and the CPI that he will not, under any circumstance, back a Congress-led government at the Centre.

In a recent meeting at Harkishen Singh Surjeet’s residence, Mulayam Singh told the CPM general secretary and his CPI counterpart A.B. Bardhan that he planned to put together a third front soon.

The Samajwadi leader said he did not agree with the Left that the BJP was the “main enemy”. Slamming Surjeet and Jyoti Basu for inching closer to the Congress, he said they were to be blamed for failing to forge a viable third front.

This time, he would build a “new” third front, Mulayam Singh said. He is reportedly planning to bring together the Nationalist Congress Party, the Telugu Desam, the DMK and eventually Samata Party chief George Fernandes on a new platform.

The calculation is defence minister Fernandes will quit two months before the general elections. Both the Desam and the DMK have a running battle with the Congress and, like Mulayam Singh, would not back a government led by it. They had quit the United Front when Surjeet wanted the combine to support a Sonia Gandhi-led government in 1999.

Surjeet heard out his former disciple in silence, allowing Bardhan to do the talking. Bardhan hoped Mulayam Singh would not make any move that would help the BJP, provoking him to angrily react that he had fought the BJP all his life.

Mulayam Singh today floated his plans at a rally in Etawah, saying “a third front of secular and democratic forces” was needed to save the country from communal forces. He questioned the Congress’ “will and capability to fight communalism”.

Although Mulayam Singh is again harping on equidistance from the BJP and the Congress, the reckoning in political circles is he will not be averse to taking BJP support to form a government at the Centre should the opportunity arise.

According to Samajwadi calculations, the BJP tally in the general elections will come down to 140 from 181, and the Congress, which has 112 seats, will not cross 140. Mulayam Singh expects the third front to win about 100 seats, which would increase its bargaining clout.

In this scenario, the third front could strike a deal with either the Congress or the BJP to instal a government at the Centre.

The Left believes such a scenario is highly unlikely.

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